By Nico MachlittSTAFF WRITER
Hispanic and Latino heritage was celebrated last week in a series of events in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Together Hofstra Organization of Latin Americans (HOLA) and Multicultural & International Student Programs Office (MISPO) put on many events throughout the month.
Their first event was on Oct. 15 where students tie-dyed t-shirts for a breast cancer walk that students participated in the following Sunday. That same day there was a domino tournament also raising money to support breast cancer awareness.
Last week, on Oct. 22, HOLA and MISPO held a reception with speaker Alicia Anabel Santos and showcased the University’s talent. As a producer and playwright, Santos discussed her struggles as a Latina woman in the business world. She spoke about the mix of cultures in her life from growing up in Florida in a Hispanic household and moving to New York with her daughter. She also described how culture influenced her life in more ways than just her appearance.
HOLA members taught the audience of students and staff members’ Hispanic dances like the merengue and other Hispanic ballroom dances.
Ceilin Pena-Benjamin, HOLA’s public relations chair, knows that celebrations of Latino culture on campus are important to educate the students of Hofstra.
“I firmly believe that the Hispanic culture sometimes gets put down and students underestimate us,” she said. “There is a misconception that successful people don’t come from the Hispanic community.”
That’s why telling the stories of the Latino people is so important to HOLA. “People don’t know where we come from and why we work hard and why were loud. We just want to make it in the U.S., this is a country of opportunity so this is where it starts,” said Pena-Benjamin.
On Thursday, Oct. 23 HOLA hosted Arte, celebrating the Latino culture and other cultures through all art forms from performance to visual. Students were invited to show off their talent or just to watch the performances. Students sang Sam Smith songs, presented photography and held a ballroom dancing showcase, where the audience was taught about bachata and rumba. With a diverse audience of student-athletes, members of the Latino community and other students, it was their most successful event of the month.
Pena-Benjamin knows that the Latino community is important to the Hofstra students. “Students care, I think it’s more of accepting us for who we are. We all have a little part inside of us that is unique,” she said. “Because we were raised differently than others doesn’t mean that we don’t have anything in common with other students. We are tearing down the stereotypes when we educate people about the Latino community.”
On Oct. 30, at 7:00 p.m. in plaza room middle and center, HOLA will hold their last event for Hispanic heritage month. They will host an event focusing on the day of the dead and bringing Hispanic culture to the Hofstra students. They will do this with arts and crafts, by painting sugar skulls and making other crafts, showing that Halloween is more than just the costumes and candy.
HOLA is just getting started for the year and plans to hold many more events this year. As a club they know they were once underestimated, but they are now working harder than ever to change that.
Pena-Benjamin said, “People underestimate but they won’t be ready for what we bring this year.”